Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, an Israeli convicted of arranging US kidney transplants for profit, has been sentenced to jail for 2 and a half years. Prosecutors say Rosenbaum is the first person to be convicted for illegal organ sales in the US.
Rosenbaum, who admitted to brokering kidney transplants for profit, allegedly charged 3 people between $120,000 and $160,000 to get them new kidneys, BBC News reports.
The transplants took place at top US hospitals, including the Albert Einstein Hospital in Philadelphia, The AP reports.
In 2009, the FBI launched a sting operation and caught Rosenbaum trying to arrange a fourth operation.
According to Politcker NJ, Rosenbaum was exposed by a cooperating defendant in the case named Solomon Dwek.
The 61 year old Israeli citizen who lived in Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to the charges last October, Haaretz reports.
Rosenbaum plead guilty to the 3 operations as well as to a count of conspiracy to broker the 4th operation which never happened due to the sting operation.
In addition to his time behind bars, Rosenbaum was also sentenced to 3 years probation, Politicker NJ reports. He was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, and forfeit approximately $42,000 of the money he made in kidney transplant brokering.
Prosecutors said Rosenbaum typically found donors in Israel through newspaper advertisements, the Haartez reports.
One relative of a kidney transplant spoke in defense of Rosenbaum at the trial in New Jersey Wednesday. She called Rosenbaum a "hero" who helped save her father's life.
Rosenbaum acknowledged in court that he knows his actions were wrong, but he believed "the cause was good," BBC News reports. "I can assure this court I will never do this again."
Prosecutor Paul Fishman didn't really buy Mr. Rosebaum's philanthropic claims. Fishman said "Rosenbaum was motivated by profit, not the saving of lives."
Assistant US attorney Mark McCarren said the defendant was "trying to portray himself as the 'Robin Hood' of kidneys." McCarren said the only thing Rosenbaum's story had in common with Robin Hood is that they are both works of fiction, The AP reports.
Mr. Rosenbaum's attorney Richard Kleinberg argued that his client admitted to engaging in illegal acts, but with good intentions. Rosenbaum's supporters said he was a well respected Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn's Borough Park.
One supporter in particular, Rachel Warshower, a family friend of Mr. Rosenbaum's told The AP she believes this was a victimless crime. "There are no victims here. The donors are happy and the recipients are happy," she said. "Itzhak Rosenbaum is not the monster the media has made him out to be."
Rosenbaum is set to begin his sentence on October 12, Haaretz reports. He is not a US citizen, so immigration authorities will decide whether or not to deport him once he finishes out his sentence.